Tribune-Courier News Reporter
The Marshall County Fiscal Court is expected to begin discussions today about how the county will proceed with outsourcing the cleanup of dilapidated properties in violation of the county’s nuisance ordinance.
Marshall County Sheriff Kevin Byars said he believes members of the court will begin outsourcing the cleanup because the county doesn’t have the manpower to dispose of left-behind homes and trailers on abandoned Marshall County properties.
“The rundown properties have homes and trailers left behind on them that can’t be easily removed,” he said. “We have 11 properties in Gilbertsville we’ve been receiving complaints about for several years.”
Byars said the abandoned properties could create hazards for those living nearby, along with destroying nearby property values. At a December meeting of the fiscal court, members of the Gilbertsville Neighborhood Watch asked that the dilapidated properties be cleaned up. That meeting led Byars to notify property owners of their violations of the county’s nuisance ordinance.
Byars said he sent out citations regarding the 11 dilapidated properties in Gilbertsville in December and will now turn six of those letters over to the fiscal court so that they can proceed with deciding what to do next.
“On five of the letters I got no response and on one of them the owner asked that the county clean up the property and then the property owner would pay the expenses back,” he said. “The county is responsible for the cost monetarily so now it’s up to the court.”
Byars received another five citations back with request for a hearing, which he turned over to the Marshall County Refuse Board last Thursday.
Those citations were in regard to property all owned by Jackie Dedman, who has hired Dickie Holland to help her clean up the properties. Byars said Dedman and Holland have asked for the extension to clean up the properties, but he believes they will be unable to handle the scope of the project.
“In my opinion he doesn’t have the means to clean it up,” he said. “People are fed up with the state of her properties.”
After receiving a citation letter, and if no appeal is made, the next step is for the fiscal court to order the cleanup of the property at the cost of the county.
The cost incurred for the cleanup will be collected from liens on the properties and by selling the properties after foreclosure.
Byars said he wants to see the county’s nuisance ordinance better enforced in district court.
“There is some teeth to our ordinance, but we can’t get our district judge to put the teeth in,” Byars said. “There is a criminal element of a $500 fine or 30 days in jail and he has never enforced that. He’s always given them an extra 90 days to get it cleaned up. The teeth are there though and if we did it one time and made an example I bet those people would get those properties cleaned up.”
Marshall County District Judge Jack Telle said to the best of his memory there have never been any formal proceedings regarding the county’s nuisance ordinance in district court.
“I would give due consideration to the full scope of what the ordinance would allow but it would have to go by a case–by–case basis,” he said.